Keene State College

Natalie Haley (2016)

My First Generation Story

As I enter my senior year of college, I reflect on what has driven me to pursue a higher education.

While my parents have done so much for my sister and I to go to college, I recognize it is still financially difficult to send two daughters to college at the same time. My mother received a certificate in nursing and my father dropped out of college his sophomore year. To support our college education, my mother recently shifted jobs in the foodservice industry to work as an a la carte cook at a high school; my father continues to work sporadic hours as a dispatcher for a local transportation company, although he is one of the smartest people I know when it comes to technology. While he does IT work on the side, I realized that because he does not have his degree, a more permanent and full-time job is difficult to come by.

The college application process would have been daunting and too expensive without the help of Keene State College’s Upward Bound program, a TRIO program that aids underserved students. Upon learning from them that my sister and I were first generation on top of being low-income, I put more pressure on myself to work harder so that the financial burden would not be too much for my family. Due to my work ethic in high school and my connection to TRIO, I was able to receive the Travelli-Ayling scholarship that has kept me at Keene State College for all four years of my undergraduate career. My advisor for the scholarship pushes me for academic success and to become an involved community member.

Because of all the support I receive from my parents and certain individuals from Keene State College, I knew that I wanted to give back to others in some way. In order for me to do that, I needed to work on my life goals and myself. It started with the dramatic shift in majors (from Music Therapy to Women and Gender Studies); while some may be skeptical of this choice, I have accepted that no matter what I do after college, I will strive to create environments that are safe and of equal opportunity. While the professors at Keene State try to provide coursework that examines different cultures’ theory and experiences, I seek every chance I get to perform more in-depth research of Korean culture and music into my projects.

Despite academics being my top priority, I wanted to become a more involved member of the community. It was not easy since my anxiety has prevented me from a lot of participation in class and in extracurricular endeavors, but being surrounding by supportive friends, faculty and staff has made branching out a positive experience. I spend my time outside of class working three on-campus jobs and my sorority duties. When I do have a free moment, I will either volunteer with my sorority sisters or attend an on-campus talk. This freedom began when I started searching for college, and I am glad to have found individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping people like me obtain an education that will help me for the rest of my life.

About the Student

Natalie Haley Resized

Natalie Haley lives in Stoddard, New Hampshire with her parents and sister. At Keene State, she is part of the Women's and Gender Studies honors society and the Greek Life honors society. She has worked for the Physical Education Department, the Aspire program, and the Women's and Gender Studies Department. She is also a member of Delta Xi Phi and has held the position of multicultural chair. Instead of graduating a semester early, Natalie is spending fall 2016 at Stony Brook University through the National Student Exchange to learn Korean language and culture. She is ecstatic about the opportunity.

Student Stats

Name: Natalie Haley (2016)
Age: 21
Year in School: Senior
Major: Women's and Gender Studies
Favorite Course: Feminist Media Theory
Dream Job: Teaching English in Korea or University Professor

About the School


Keene State College prepares promising students to think critically and creatively, to engage in active citizenship, and to pursue meaningful work. As the public liberal arts college of New Hampshire, we offer an enriching campus community and achieve academic excellence through the integration of teaching, learning, scholarship, and service.



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662